‘Personal safety measures missing’
Six workers died and four fell seriously ill after inhaling carbon monoxide at the Gerdau Steel Industries on the Tadipatri-Kadapa highway, 3 km from Tadipatri town, on Thursday.
The Anantapur district police said the accident occurred at the ‘drip point’ of the steel rolling unit, where poisonous gas is used for cooling the finished products.
G.V.G. Ashok Kumar, Superintendent of Police, Anantapur, told The Hindu that a group of workers were on the job of regular maintenance of the valves at the chambers meant for cooling the finished products.
Nine of them took ill due to sudden leakage of the gas. Two workers died on the way to the government hospital at Tadipatri and four died in the emergency ward, the SP said.
He said criminal cases would be booked against the factory management. The SP, who rushed to the spot, said ex gratia would be announced after discussions with the management and revenue officials. “Law and order is under control and family members of victims are waiting for the relief announcement and justice,” he said.
District Fire Officer K. Satyanarayana said “personal safety measures” were missing at the spot. “The workers should carry personal safety kits with them while checking valves that supply poisonous gases. The kits detect the leak of hazardous gases. This is our preliminary report,” he said.
A rescue party from Tadipatri had rushed to the spot, he said. Co-workers told officials that after inhaling the carbon monoxide, the workers were rendered breathless. Had the main valve supplying the gas been turned off promptly, the casualties could have been averted or minimised.